A Prisoner in Fairyland
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun!
Romeo and Juliet.
The announcement of Henry Rogers's coming was received--variously, for any
new arrival into the Den circle was subjected to rigorous criticism. This criticism
was not intentional; it was the instinctive judgment that children pass upon
everything, object or person, likely to affect themselves. And there is no severer
bar of judgment in the world.
'Who is Cousinenry? What a name! Is he stiff, I wonder?' came from Monkey,
almost before the announcement had left her father's lips. 'What will he think of
Tante Jeanne?' Her little torrent of questions that prejudged him thus never
called for accurate answers as a rule, but this time she meant to have an answer.
'What is he exaccurately?' she added, using her own invention made up of 'exact'
Mother looked up from the typewritten letter to reply, but before she could say,
'He's your father's cousin, dear; they were here as boys twenty years ago to learn
French,' Jinny burst in with an explosive interrogation. She had been reading La
Bonne Menagere in a corner. Her eyes, dark with conjecture, searched the faces
of both parents alternately. 'Excuse me, Mother, but is he a clergyman?' she
asked with a touch of alarm.
'Whatever makes you think that, child?'
'Clergymen are always called the reverundhenry. He'll wear black and have
socks that want mending.'
'He shouldn't punt his letters,' declared Monkey. 'He's not an author, is he?'
Jimbo, busy over school tasks, with a huge slate-pencil his crumpled fingers held
like a walking-stick, watched and listened in silence. He was ever fearful,
perhaps, lest his superior man's knowledge might be called upon and found
wanting. Questions poured and crackled like grapeshot, while the truth slowly
emerged from the explanations the parents were occasionally permitted to
interject. The personality of Cousin Henry Rogers grew into life about them--
gradually. The result was a curious one that Minks would certainly have resented
with indignation. For Cousinenry was, apparently, a business man with pockets
full of sovereigns; stern, clever, and important; the sort of man that gets into
Governments and things, yet somewhere with the flavour of the clergyman about
him. This clerical touch was Jane Anne's contribution to the picture; and she was
certain that he wore silk socks of the most expensive description--a detail she
had read probably in some chance fragments of a newspaper. For Jinny selected
phrases in this way from anywhere, and repeated them on all occasions without
the slightest relevancy. She practised them. She had a way of giving abrupt
information and making startling statements a propos of nothing at all. Certain
phrases stuck in her mind, it seemed, for no comprehensible reason. When